The Diamondbacks will take steps to try and keep Ketel Marte healthier in 2020, GM Mike Hazen told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, including “getting him off his feet at various points in time” during the season, and investigating “offseason/spring training type of regimens, physically, that we can help him strengthen to put himself in a better position coming into the season.” Something that doesn’t appear to be on the table is moving Marte back to second base, as while Hazen didn’t entirely rule out the idea, “I think how he fits onto the major-league team is a tremendous luxury.” Marte’s transition to regular center field duty went swimmingly from a defensive standpoint, as he posted an excellent +7 Defensive Runs Saved and +10.8 UZR/150 over 687 2/3 innings at the position. He also saw significant action at second base and a bit of time at shortstop, so between that versatility and a huge offensive performance (32 homers and a .329/.389/.592 slash line), Marte was one of the most valuable players of 2019 —- his 7.1 fWAR ranks sixth in all of baseball.
There was a bit of an injury cost, however, as Marte was shut down last week due to a stress reaction in his back. While the stress reaction wasn’t terribly serious, keeping the superstar healthy is of the utmost importance for the D’Backs. Hazen said the Diamondbacks won’t be “closing ourselves off to what the offseason will bring,” so Marte’s positional usage could perhaps be altered again should Arizona have the chance to acquire another regular center fielder (or second baseman). Marte seems like the best bet to be in center on Opening Day, however, given that landing a center fielder would likely come at a significant financial or trade cost to the D’Backs.
More from around the NL West…
- The Rockies’ troubled pitching situation is examined by The Athletic’s Nick Groke (subscription required), who projects that German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, and Jon Gray will headline the 2020 rotation. The last two spots are up in the air between such names as Peter Lambert, Antonio Senzatela, Jeff Hoffman, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Tim Melville, Rico Garcia, Chris Rusin, and Ryan Castellani. While there’s certainly room for an external addition, the Rockies have now gone several years without signing a veteran to a significant Major League contract — Kyle Kendrick was the last, back in the 2014-15 offseason. It doesn’t seem like this trend will change this winter, as the team doesn’t have much payroll space available (due in part to a lot of ill-fated free agent signings in general in recent years). There’s also the fact that free agent pitchers who have a choice of multiple teams aren’t likely to want to come to Coors Field without a significant overpay.
- Unsurprisingly, several Giants free agents aren’t planning to re-sign with the team until they know who the next manager will be, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. This includes the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, who will be two of the more heavily-pursued arms on the market this winter, and also lower-tier free agents like Stephen Vogt, who Schulman noted “seems like the perfect candidate to re-sign as a free agent quickly after the season.” Vogt has hit .264/.311/.492 with 10 homers over 273 PA this season, playing primarily as the backup catcher and also seeing a bit of time as a left fielder and first baseman. Between his valuable bench presence and his ties to the Bay Area, Vogt indeed seems like a good fit for the 2020 roster, and he would “definitely be interested in coming back.” If a new manager isn’t hired until the free agency period begins, however, the Giants would lose their exclusive negotiating window to talk terms with Vogt and other free agents.
- The Giants announced that right-hander Trevor Gott underwent left groin surgery yesterday. Gott’s season was already over due to an elbow strain, and the groin surgery only carries a six-week recovery period, so it shouldn’t impact Gott’s readiness for Spring Training. Gott posted a 4.44 ERA, 9.7 K/9, and 3.35 K/BB rate over 52 2/3 innings out of San Francisco’s bullpen this season, though ERA indicators (3.13 FIP, 4.06 xFIP, 3.74 SIERA) point out that Gott performed better than his 4.44 ERA would imply.